2024-2025 FAFSA Updates

Over the last few months, you have heard about FAFSA changes for 2024-2025. For the 2024-25 school year, the FAFSA has been reduced to less than half of the current 108 questions, including detailed financial information, and it will be easier to import income data from tax records. Along with the pared-down form, the Department of Education is changing its formulas to determine who will qualify for aid and how much they’ll receive.

The Financial Aid Office has hosted many virtual presentations to help students and families understand the upcoming changes to the 2024-2025 FAFSA and financial aid in general. If you need assistance with completing your 2024-2025 FAFSA, please visit the Financial Aid Office.

Some changes include:

Release Date

The 2024-2025 FAFSA was released in December 2023.


Everyone will need an FSA ID, including parents without a social security number. However, starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA, students and parents will not be able to access the FAFSA form without an FSA ID set up prior to starting the form. Please note that it will take 1 to 3 days for an FSA ID to go through the verification process.

Parents that are not U.S. citizens or residents will also need to create an FSA ID.

Applicants will be required to use the IRS Direct Data Exchange

Previously, users had the option to enter their tax information manually or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Beginning with 2024-25, all persons on the FAFSA must provide consent for the Department of Education to receive tax information or confirmation of non-filing status directly from the IRS. In a very small number of cases, students and families will have to enter their tax data manually, but for most, that data will be automatically transferred into the application. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA and reduces the number of questions to be answered.

All contributors must provide financial information

A contributor—a new term being introduced on the 2024-25 FAFSA—refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student's form (such as a parent/stepparent or spouse). A student's or parent's answers on the FAFSA will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.

Contributors will receive an email informing them that they've been identified as such, and will need to log in using their own FSA ID (if they don't already have one) to provide the required information on the student's FAFSA.

Being a contributor does not mean they are financially responsible for the student's education costs, but it does mean the contributor must provide information on the FAFSA or the application will be incomplete and the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.

Number of colleges on the FAFSA

Students will be able to list 20 colleges on the FAFSA. Previously, the FAFSA only allowed students to list up to 10 colleges and universities. To be considered for aid from the State of North Carolina, please list a North Carolina 4 year public college or community college in the top three.

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

A notable terminology update within the new FAFSA is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). This name more accurately describes the number used to determine aid eligibility and, unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number down to -1500. The SAI will be used to calculate need-based financial aid.

The number in college will not be used to calculate the SAI

Previously, the FAFSA calculated the number of household members attending college into the EFC, dividing it proportionately to determine federal aid eligibility. Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA, the application will still ask how many household members are in college, but your answer will not be calculated into the SAI. As such, students with siblings in college may see a change in their federal aid eligibility.

Some students will automatically be awarded a Pell Grant

Families making less than 175% and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty level will see their students receive a maximum Federal Pell Grant award. Minimum Pell Grants will be guaranteed to students from households below 275%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the poverty level, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.

The parent responsible for submitting the FAFSA in cases of divorce or separation has changed

For dependent students, financial information was previously needed from the parent(s) the student had lived with the most in the last 12 months. With the new FAFSA, financial information will be required from the parent(s) who provided the most financial support to the student regardless of where the student resided in the last 12 months.

Enrollment categories will change for calculating the Pell Grant

Previously, Pell Grant was awarded based on full-time (12 or more hours), three-quarter-time (9-11 credit hours), half-time (6-8 credit hours) or less-than-half-time (1-5 credit hours) enrollment statuses. For 2024-2025, the enrollment statuses will be replaced with a new term called “enrollment intensity.”

Enrollment intensity is the percentage of full-time enrollment at which a student is enrolled, rounded to the nearest whole percent. For example, if full-time enrollment is 12 or more credit hours and the student is enrolled in 7 credit hours, the enrollment intensity would be (7 / 12) x 100% = 58%.

For the 2024-2025 award year and thereafter, a student’s scheduled Pell Grant award is multiplied by the student’s enrollment intensity percentage to determine the Annual Pell Grant Award.

Changes to the Year-Round Pell Grant

Previously, a Pell Grant-eligible student must have been enrolled at least half-time in a payment period during which they received more than 100% of their scheduled award. Beginning 2024-2025, the new change removes the half-time enrollment requirement.

Family size

Family size (not household size anymore) will be based on the number of people claimed as exemptions on federal tax forms filed for the people reported on the FAFSA. There will be an option to modify that number if it is no longer an accurate reflection of family size.

Family farms and small businesses must be reported as assets

When required, families must now report the value of their small business or family farm. If the family farm includes the principal place of residence, applicants should determine the total net value of all farm assets and subtract the net value of their principal residence to determine the final value of their farm assets.